Most gardens consist of natural or synthetic flooring, trees and plants, at least one major feature and several small accessories. This article explains how you can choose a garden design suitable for your own personal needs and budget.
Define your outdoor space. Before deciding what to include in your garden design, you should consider visiting public gardens or simply view examples of gardens on the internet. This will inspire new ideas and help you to visualise the potential of your outdoor space.
Photograph your existing garden area before working on the new design. Taking these photos with you around public gardens or comparing them to pictures on the internet will prove most useful.
Choose your garden flooring. Traditional gardens have a lawn for recreational use and a deck or patio dining area. However, there are many more types of flooring that can benefit your garden design. For decorative flooring, lay pebbles or stone paving; for zero maintenance flooring, lay an artificial grass lawn (astro turf); and for safety flooring, consider wood chippings or rubber.
How a garden is used should dictate the choice of flooring, and larger gardens are often designed to have more than one flooring area. Most decorative and safety floorings are available in several styles; choose a pattern and color that blends well with the surroundings.
Choose trees suitable for your garden. Trees have character, improve ecology and encourage birds to nest. These qualities should all be considered when planning how to use trees in your garden.
For garden design we are most concerned with proportions and placement. The size of any tree (after it has finished growing) should be in keeping with the garden; for instance, an oak would not be suitable for a small backyard. Trees are typically placed around the perimeters of a garden to provide privacy and a pleasant surrounding border. If you have a small area to design, the use of hedging may be more practical than trees, which can still feature in the corners or center of your garden.
Most trees take several years to reach their size potential, so buy fully grown trees from a nursery if you need an instant effect. Alternatively, you can buy seeds to reduce cost and enjoy watching the trees grow.
Choose your design features. Any garden design should have a focal point. This could be a sundial, statue, monolith, rock garden, pond, water feature or a simple tree. A balanced design is important as an over complicated or cluttered garden will spoil your efforts.
Add the finishing touches. Now you have defined all major areas of your outdoor space, you can add the finishing touches to your garden design. Flower beds, potted plants, outdoor lighting, ornamental pieces, fencing and pathways will bring your garden to life. If you have carefully planned the larger aspects of your design, these important details should fall into place nicely.
Once the design choices are finalised, you should take some measurements and draw a simple garden design sketch. This will help you to determine a good design layout and save time when starting work in the garden.
If you require more information on choosing a garden design, consider viewing the free style guide provided by the Royal Horticultural Society. You can also enroll in an online design class or two to learn about how color and layout can affect the impact your garden makes on visitors.
Adrian Thompson is an engineering graduate and business consultant with expert knowlege in the fields of artificial grass, synthetic flooring, playground surfaces and the implication of astro turf in sports.